“The Hard Truth About Web Design” – by Ben Hunt

July 8, 2024

Ben Hunt is one of the few “gurus” who I now follow closely in the web design and marketing field.

Ben Hunt’s philosophy on web design is pretty much identical to what I have believed for many years – except that Ben had the guts to stand up publicly and tell it like it is, long before I did.

Ben has written a fantastic blog post at www.webdesignfromscratch.com/basics/hard-truth-web-design/. He makes a powerful case against the mainstream approach of web design agencies, who focus on “design” – fancy graphics, cool effects etc – rather than what really matters for a business website – the amount of revenue and profit the website actually generates.

Here are some quotes from Ben’s blog post:

“The first rule of Web Design is: Web Design is not the graphic design of web pages.

The second rule of Web Design is: Web Design is NOT the graphic design of web pages!

Does Aesthetic Appeal Matter?

Yes, but only a bit.

In the real world of marketing… you know, selling stuff, persuading people, generating real change that actually MATTERS… aesthetics is a minor factor.

Sometimes, ugly websites work better. Fact.

Most of the time, people don’t actually notice or care how good a web page looks. Fact.

I’ve spent the past few years running actual tests on actual websites, to find out what really works. Hundreds of tests.

I’ve changed imagery. I’ve changed graphic design. I’ve changed typography. I’ve changed words. I’ve changed calls to action. I’ve changed navigation…

And every time, I’ve measured which variants had the most positive or negative impact. Using real-world goals that actually MATTER.

We’re talking about converting browsers to buyers, tyre-kickers to tribe members, followers to fans.

Recently, I analysed the results of 56 of my more recent split tests.

What these results show clearly is… Style changes don’t make much difference!

I’d also ask you to remember that graphic design is time-consuming and expensive. Instead of spending an hour in Photoshop and CSS, spend an hour coming up with a powerful headline and five compelling reasons why your proposition is great.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Web design is marketing. Marketing is business.

Everything we do can be measured. If you can’t measure it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

You have a choice.

You can acknowledge the truths that visual appeal and originality are expensive (and) are as likely to fail as they are to succeed…

Or, you can commit to the path of practising what actually works. That will require training and education, and probably a radical change to the way you work.

The Acid Test

I guarantee my customers that I’ll double their investment within a few months. (If a project isn’t likely to be profitable, I’ll tell the prospect, and I won’t take them on as a customer, because unprofitable projects should not be done.)

Can your web designer say that?”

Congratulations, Ben, on this post. I want to acknowledge how much you have influenced my own direction (and ultimately helped to take my own business to a whole new level) due to the effort you’ve put in to prove what actually works in the real world.

Leave a comment